Friends of the Alto Tunnel

Author Rick Coates

I had some time yesterday before the well attended (250 people) Friends of the Alto Tunnel event to walk from the San Rafael SMART station to the Larkspur SMART station and check out the construction of the extension.  All of the track, save that at the San Rafael transit center is in and switches are being installed.  Ballast has been laid but is not yet even with the top of the ties.

The rails for the 2nd Street crossing have been attached to ties and the assembly is sitting on top of the already laid rails through the Transit Center ready to move to the roadway which will be closed over the weekend.  Ballast will then be added to the rails in the Transit Center and made even with the ties.

The Larkspur Station appears complete except for communications and vending machines and connecting roadways, parking and pedestrian walks.

The bicycle path is nearly complete and connected at Anderson Ave. to the existing trail to Larkspur.

When the construction is complete, signal and PTC testing will still need to be done.  Nonetheless it seems likely that the project will be completed as scheduled by the end of 2019.

I also walked Anderson Ave.  It has a wide sidewalk and unprotected bike lanes on each side.  Traffic is heavy and moving at 30 to 40 MPH.  Death trap.  Bicyclist tend to use the sidewalk.  Anderson is walled on each side forming an urban canyon that traps the auto and truck fumes making for an unpleasant and unhealthy walk or ride.  Traffic engineers should be required to walk or bike to work every day.

The Friends of the Alto Tunnel event featured a talk by Bob Ravasio, Mayor of Corte Madera who suffered serious injuries when a driver forced him of the edge of the road recently.  Six months in the hospital.  Opening the Alto Tunnel would connect to very long sections of bicycle trail from Sausalito to San Anselmo and avoid the present curvy, steep and dangerous “Bike Route” over Camino Alto.  The event also featured a film promoting an open Alto Tunnel which will soon be posted on the websites of Friends of the Alto Tunnel, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and EcoRing.


Wider Highway 101 in California redwood grove is blocked by judge

Author Bob Egelko May 20, 2019

A longtime state proposal to widen a 1-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 in Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County to make room for bigger trucks has hit a roadblock in federal court, where a judge says Caltrans lacks adequate plans to protect ancient redwoods that soar 300 feet above the highway.

For the third time since the project was proposed in 2007, the state Department of Transportation assessed it in 2017 and concluded it would cause “no significant impact” to the environment. But U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco said Caltrans had brushed aside evidence that the road-widening could suffocate some redwoods, cause root disease in others and worsen damage to trees hit by trucks that skidded off the highway.

The department’s studies have failed to rule out “significant risks to the lives of these giants,” some of which are 3,000 years old, Alsup said in a ruling Friday that rejected the 2017 assessment. He said Caltrans had also given short shrift to the noise generated by heavier trucks and its effect on park visitors.

Read More

Is Your City Really Serious About Road Safety? Look for These 3 Things

Thirty-six people died in traffic crashes in Washington, D.C. last year, a 20% increase from 2017. Eight people, six of whom were walking or biking, have already been killed this year, prompting a major public rally just two weeks ago. Residents are angry that the city isn’t succeeding in curbing road deaths, despite the fact that Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to end traffic fatalities entirely by 2024.

It’s a common plight. While more than 40 cities in the United States and many more around the world have committed to Vision Zero, a global movement to end traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by taking a systemic approach to road safety, many are struggling to turn this vision into a reality. Citizens themselves can pursue road safety at many levels— in their schools, workplaces, streets and communities. But it’s the elected leaders who control budgets and priorities for their jurisdiction who really have the responsibility to catalyze lasting improvements that will save people’s lives. As UN Global Road Safety Week kicks into gear this week, it’s time to ask the question: What does political leadership in road safety really look like?

Read More

How We Talk About Drivers Hitting Cyclists

Maria “Triny” Willerton was on a final course recon for last year’s Ironman in Boulder, Colorado, when things literally went sideways. It was a sunny, calm weekday morning in early May—“a perfect day to ride,” she says—and the 46-year-old triathlete was travelling east on Nelson Road, a straight, treeless rural route roughly nine miles north of town. After signaling with her arm, she started to turn left onto North 65th Avenue, a quiet stretch of pavement where she would be able to worry less about traffic. She never made it.

Midturn, “I bounced off the grill of a brand-new Ford F-150,” she recalled. “I flew through the air and landed on the westbound shoulder.” According to a story that ran later that day in the local newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, Willerton made her turn in front of the driver, Stephen Gray, then 62, who was traveling in the same direction and hit her from behind. Willerton never lost consciousness, but she suffered six broken ribs, a triple pelvic fracture, chipped teeth, and a collapsed lung, among other injuries.

Read More

What Will It Take to Finish This Bike Trail Across the U.S.?


If you’re an avid American cyclist, odds are you’ve harbored this dream: a sea-to-shining-sea cross-country bike trek, the sort of epic journey Jerry Cowden took from Arlington, Virginia, all the way to Astoria, Oregon, when he retired from his job at the FCC in 2009.

“I went out my back door, got on my bike, and didn’t stop until I got to the Pacific Ocean, 106 days later,” he says.

Cowden’s path west traced the TransAmerica Trail, a set of cross-country routes on backroads originally mapped for the 1976 Bikecentennial ride, and the Katy Trail, a recreational rail-trail in Missouri. That helped him minimize his encounters with motor vehicle traffic. But he says he did have to deal with a few sections of roadway he had to share with motorists. “They tried as much as possible to route you on roads that are low stress and low traffic, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable.”

If you’re in a car, you’ve been able to motor across the United States since 1913. (Thanks, Lincoln Highway.) But on a bike, it’s been more of a challenge—there’s no single unified route made for cycles that spans the continent. That may soon change: On Wednesday, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy gave the grand reveal for an entirely car-free way to get across the country—the Great American Rail-Trail—that would connect Washington, D.C., to Seattle. The path runs through 12 states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.

The launch event kicked off at Capitol Hill in D.C., near where the Capital Crescent Trail begins the cross-country route, as part of a live-streamed broadcast of events at stops along the way, including Columbus, Ohio; Three Forks, Montana; and South Cle Elum, Washington.